A form of bribery, known as “kickbacks,” is a prevalent criminal charge pursued by law enforcement and prosecutors in the health care industry. Kickbacks in the medical industry are strictly prohibited and the U.S. Congress has imposed tough criminal penalties in order to deter such conduct.
If you are currently facing federal health care kickback charges, you could be facing prison and/or exponential fines. Having an experienced federal health care kickback lawyer can help mitigate your potential penalty while looking for ways to build a strong defense on your behalf.
Kickbacks are a form of an illegal payment or other compensation made to another person to reward them for steering business, contracts, patients or other goods and/or services to the payer of the kickback. Federal criminal law makes such payments illegal in the health care industry.
A recent example of a kickback case was occurred in Louisiana where two people were sentenced to 12 months of home detention, 5 years probation, and fined $342,447 for their role in a kickback scheme. The scheme involved a married North Carolina couple referring patients to a certain company for medical equipment. The couple received compensation for their illegal referrals. The equipment was medically unnecessary for these patients but the company provided the equipment anyway and billed Medicare for these services. Schemes such as this one are commonly investigated and prosecuted by federal law enforcement.
In order to protect patients and federal health care programs from being taken advantage of, the federal government enacted 42 U.S.C. Section 1320a-7b(b), also known as the Anti-Kickback statute, in 1972. Section 1320 is an intent-based statute that prohibits the exchange of any item of value in an effort to be rewarded by a federal health care business.
If you are convicted of a single violation of the Anti-Kickback statute, you could be facing a felony conviction and penalties including up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine in excess of $25,000 in addition to a ban on future participation in federal health care programs.
Further, civil penalties in the amount of $50,000 per violation and three times the amount paid out by the health care program in false claims, may be rendered above and beyond any criminal liability imposed. With such steep fines and serious prison sentences in play, it is important to have a federal health care kickback lawyer working to craft your defense, based on the facts of your particular case.
Because health care kickbacks are so common, it is often very difficult for the government to police such a high volume of violations. To remedy this, the False Claims Act was created in order to establish both the civil and criminal penalties associated with health care fraud while providing a provision allowing individuals to “blow the whistle” on any wrong-doing they witness.
Persons convicted of violating the False Claims Act face the following penalties:
Further, to help encourage whistleblowers to come forward, the False Claims Act protects these individuals from discrimination, demotion, harassment, etc. by allowing for all necessary relief.
A federal health care kickback charge is serious and can impact you both personally and professionally for years to come. An experienced federal health care kickback lawyer can help you by building a strong defense while attempting to mitigate your potential penalties.
Additionally, if your company suspects an employee is involved in an illegal kickback scheme, you should consider hiring an experienced federal health care kickback lawyer to: (1) conduct an internal investigation, (2) report any findings of wrongdoing to management, (3) consider whether to self-report the activity to law enforcement to mitigate the company’s liability, and (4) review your companies compliance policies to determine whether they are adequate to avoid future wrongdoing.
If you would like to consult with a federal health care fraud lawyer, please contact us today to set up a free consultation.